The Difference 40 Minutes, One Day Per Week Can Make

(Guest post from Soccer Shots Franchising)

At Soccer Shots, it is part of our mission to impact youth in a positive way, but there are times when the depth of that impact is more profound than we could have hoped for. The following is a letter from a parent of Soccer Shots participants. We have changed only the names to protect the family’s anonymity but the rest is a copy/pasted letter that we wanted to share. Let it be a reminder to all who work with children that the time we spend (even if it’s only 40 minutes, one day a week) can be deeply meaningful.

40Minutes 300x198 The Difference 40 Minutes, One Day Per Week Can Make

Dear Coach Matt,

I wanted to take the time to write you an email, to thank you for all you do in running the Soccer Shots Program. Both of my boys, Jason, now 4, and Phil, age 3, have benefited from this program in more ways than you know. That is why I am writing you, to give a first-hand account on how your program is serving others.

To many families, signing up their child(ren) may be on a long list of to-dos, a part of “growing up”…a milestone. For my family, it was a way to bring joy to a life that was hanging on by a thread.

When I initially signed Jason up in the Fall of 2009, it was out of my strong desire to engage him in an activity that was positive and promoted teamwork, self-confidence, and encouragement. You wouldn’t have known this, but it was a very difficult time for the boys and me. At the time, we were living in a home with an active drug and alcohol addict–my husband (and their father.) As you can imagine, this made it very difficult to have a “normal” life and marriage, as life with an addict is very far from that. I was also praying that the soccer program would bring a positive male influence into my son’s life, even if it was only once a week.

Last Spring, you were one of those people. I appreciated your commitment to Jason, especially when you engaged him back “into” the activity and really worked with him, encouraging him to have fun and participate. Your effort was to be commended. You always gave him special attention, and he still talks about playing soccer, and his coach was “Coach Matt.”

This season, Phil was old enough to start the program. He has had Coach Brad, and again, what a wonderful experience it has been. Brad is just wonderful with the kids, and I have tried to thank him on several occasions, knowing that he really has no idea just HOW thankful I am. One particular moment sticks out.

Early in the season, Coach Brad called Phil, “Phil the Thrill” and the name stuck with him. I know to Brad, it may have been an off-hand comment, but to Phil, it meant the world. After all, his coach gave him a special name!

At night, when I tuck him in, sometimes he waits for me to say, “I love you–Phil the Thrill–my little soccer man!”

As a teacher, I have served so many families, and have had the pleasure of knowing their stories and sharing in their lives. I really feel God has gifted me in this way of serving others. Please know that I feel you have this gift, too, and THANK YOU for bringing together such an amazing team of people to do this work.

I think those of us in service positions don’t realize the magnitude of the work we’re doing at times, the lives we can be touching and not even know it, even through the game of soccer. The way we react to a child; an encouraging word, a happy disposition, a hug or high-five, even an off-hand “nickname” can go a long way in the life of a child.

So today, I want you to know how much you and Brad have meant to my boys, and for that I am forever grateful.

Melissa

We hope this parent knows how much letters like this mean to everyone in Soccer Shots. This is why we do what we do.

2011 SSCOA Recipient: PLAYGROUP (Echo Park)

We are very pleased to announce PLAYGROUP (Echo Park) as this years recipient of the Soccer Shots Community Outreach Award (SSCOA)!

On September 13, 2011 Soccer Shots will kick off the first of ten weeks of soccer and fun where each week around 20 children will experience the fun and excitement of Soccer Shots at PLAYGROUP! In addition to our Global Goals pledge, Soccer Shots Los Angeles seeks to give back to the local community in the form of the SSCOA which provides soccer at deserving schools in the community at no cost to the school or parents for an entire season. Each year we plan to give up to $10,000 of Soccer Shots! If you are interested in applying for a future SSCOA, please email losangeles(a)soccershots.org.

PLAYGROUP’s mission is to provide quality, affordable childcare for working families, and to promote children’s emotional, social and intellectual development in a safe and caring environment.

PLAYGROUP joins with families to prepare children for school and community life. PLAYGROUP values and teaches non-violence, cooperation, cultural diversity and the worth of all people.

EchoParkPlaygroup 2011 SSCOA Recipient: PLAYGROUP (Echo Park)

Tell us HOW Soccer Shots would benefit your children and WHY your school/site/program is deserving of the 2011 Soccer Shots Community Outreach Award.
We have a diverse parent and student base (economic, cultural, professional, etc.) that is likewise representative of our community as a whole.  And one of our main goals as a school is to build community among parents, neighbors and the children themselves.  

Soccer – as an energetic team sport – would be a true physical manifestation of working together – a fundamental of community building.

We also happen to be a modest school – small grounds and a student body of about 38.  The soccer camp would provide an opportunity to organize the children to a weekly trip to the nearby Elysian Park (where we would hold the soccer lessons).  Again, providing the opportunity for community building, locale awareness and downright fun!!

Many of our families are from low and modest incomes.  Enrolling in a soccer camp just isn’t possible in addition to preschool enrollment.  We’re also a non-profit school that has relied heavily on state grants in order to function.  With the past state budget cuts, we’ve steadily lost funding and as of this year, have to rely almost exclusively on enrollment fees.  To have the opportunity to expose children to a sport is a goal, but financially not possible at this time.

Finally – we’re eager to receive the award primarily because of all the greatness that comes with soccer.  

Team building, exposure to physical education and activity, parent involvement (parents would jump at watching their kids run after the ball!!) and a glimpse at physical and mental discipline.

 We really hope you consider us for your award.  We’d love to start the school year in September with the great opportunity of a fall soccer camp.

– Michelle M. (Parent at PLAYGROUP)

2011 Soccer Shots Annual Meeting

This past weekend we joined over 70 other Soccer Shots franchise owners, directors, and corporate staff at our 2011 Annual Meeting in Charlotte, NC.

2011SoccerShots 300x210 2011 Soccer Shots Annual Meeting

The two day meeting was full of insightful speakers and workshops, presentations of upcoming system wide improvements, and of course priceless interactions and conversations with individuals dedicated to the Soccer Shots community and the families that we are so fortunate to serve. Speakers included Dr. Dave Hood, President of iFranchise and former President of Auntie Anne’s and Greg Griffith from the U.S. Soccer Foundation. Looking forward we are excited to offer:

• New Email System consisting of custom templates.
• Custom Survey Tool which will be available for parents and site directors to provide feedback.
• Revised Curriculum with many exciting updates!
• New In-School Display, Posters, Brochures, and Weekly Updates!

Look for many updates and improvements in the coming months and year!

Fun Soccer Games to Play at Home with your Preschoolers

(Guest post from Soccer Shots Franchising)

Soccer Shots is a youth soccer program for toddlers to elementary school children where we use soccer to teach more than just fundamentals of the game.

Our curriculum also works on character development such as teamwork, and appreciation plus physical development like coordination and motor skills.

We do this through fun, noncompetitive games that use imagination and creativity.

As a leader in the field of soccer for toddlers to 8-year-olds we know the importance of continuing children’s physical education at home and want to share a game that parents can do with their children. This at-home game will help your child not only learn to pass the ball with control but will also get them running around and having fun.

Passing is a basic skill that is simple to learn and practice. First step is to dig out a soccer ball (or one of similar size) and show your child that when passing, it is best to use the inside of your foot. Doing this allows for a straighter, more controlled pass. If you kick with your toe, there is less of a chance the ball goes where you intended because you have less control.

Now it’s game time! Here’s a simple exercise to help your child practice their passing: Tunnel Game.

The idea is to have your child properly pass the ball between your legs, or “the tunnel”. Once they pass it, it’s their job to run past you to retrieve their ball and do it again. You can vary the distance depending on your child’s ability and make sure they continue to use the inside of their foot. You may also try using the other foot too, that way they start learning to use both feet.

Take turns with your child so you can be the passer too.

Spending time playing with your child is quality time that is more meaningful and profound than you may think. Beyond bonding, you will be instilling the importance of an active lifestyle plus, we bet you’ll have fun too!